Fox News co-host Greg Gutfeld echoed statistics used by a Republican congressman to suggest right-to-carry laws decrease violent crime -- but studies have shown no such correlation. Gutfeld also hyped the debunked claim that there are "2.5 million instances each year" in which a gun is used in self-defense.
Pundits and commentators have been discussing gun-related violence following NFL player Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide. NBC Sports' Bob Costas has been ridiculed by right-wing media for comments he made on the subject during a Sunday night football broadcast.
During a segment on The Five about Belcher's murder-suicide and Costas' comments, Gutfeld said:
GUTFELD: If you want to look at the FBI uniform crime report -- right-to-carry states, 30 percent have lowered their homicide rates. Forty-six percent -- lower assault and robbery. Overall, 22 percent violent [sic] rates gone down in right-to-carry. Basically, when you're not arming people, you're actually creating a health hazard. A gun is a vitamin of safety.
Gutfeld's statistics mirror those used by a Republican congressman in a House Judiciary Committee press release issued following the House's 2011 passage of a national right-to-carry bill. The press release quoted Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX):
[House Judiciary Committee] Chairman Smith: "The Second Amendment is a fundamental right to bear arms that should not be constrained by state boundary lines. This legislation enhances public safety and protects the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.
"Studies show that carrying concealed weapons reduces violent crime rates by deterring would-be assailants and by allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Data from the FBI's Annual Uniform Crime Report shows that 'right-to-carry' states, or those that widely allow concealed carry, have 22% lower total violent crime rates, 30% lower murder rates, 46% lower robbery rates, and 12% lower aggravated assault rates, as compared to the rest of the country.
But studies show there is not actually a correlation between right-to-carry laws and lower violent crime rates. A 2011 PolitiFact post reported that "using the 2009 [FBI] data, we don't see any evidence that state gun laws correlate with violent crime rates one way or the other, at least not 'across the board.' "
From the December 5 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Townhall news editor Katie Pavlich makes a facile comparison between "two gun cultures" in America and claims that gun violence is largely limited to urban areas. However, high levels of gun death exist throughout America, and many of the states with the highest rates of gun death are rural states with weak gun laws.
In one gun culture, Pavlich claims firearms are used "to celebrate American history, for collection, personal protection, hunting and sport" while the other gun culture "can be found in the inner city of Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and others."
In publishing today's column, Pavlich joined a growing chorus of conservatives in media scrambling to deny the link between firearm availability and gun violence in the wake of the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher. From her column:
Historically in America we've had a deep respect for firearms. The vast majority of people have used them to celebrate American history, for collection, personal protection, hunting and sport. We see American gun culture celebrated each year when dads take their kids elk hunting for the first time. We see it when women head to the range to safely practice shooting their new pink pistols. We see it when a mother shoots an intruder while she is home alone in order to protect her children. We see it practiced when thousands of people sign up for concealed carry permit and hunters' safety classes each year. Not to mention, the multi-billion-dollar firearms industry employs millions of people and provides the government with billions in tax revenue every year.
The other gun culture in America can be found in the inner city of Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and others. Ironically, violent gun culture is found within gangs in cities with the strictest gun laws. It is the same culture promoted in Hollywood films made by liberals, glorified by rappers whose music is worshiped in violent gang plagued neighborhoods and disrespectfully joked about at NBA parties.
From the December 4 edition of Current's Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer:
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From the December 4 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Conservative media figures have offered up several bizarre excuses in order to deflect attention from the role gun violence played in the murder of Kasandra Perkins by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.
In order to evade the gun issue, conservatives have explained -- in detail -- alternative methods in which Belcher could have committed murder. In addition, they have attacked NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas for even broaching the topic of gun violence, suggesting that it was inappropriate to do so during an NFL broadcast, while others compared it to racially charged commentary from Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus.
National Rifle Association executive vice president and columnist Wayne LaPierre has unveiled a new conspiracy theory, alleging that NBC sportscaster Bob Costas' discussion of the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher was part of a plan by "media conglomerates" to ban guns.
On Sunday Night Football, Costas' quoted approvingly from a FoxSports.com column that noted, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and [his victim] Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
Responding on the December 3 edition of NRA News, LaPierre said Costas was promoting "an anti-Second Amendment agenda by somebody in the media with access to these media conglomerates that are more than happy to amplify that all over the country and try to ram it down the throats of average American citizens."
LaPierre and NRA News host Cam Edwards went on to use Costas' comments to promote joining the NRA:
EDWARDS: [Americans] can join the NRA and join a part of the largest organization in America protecting and defending the right to keep and bear arms.
LAPIERRE: Yeah, I mean we are about to be victim of a siege against the Second Amendment in this country going into Obama's second term. I mean it's going to be ugly. It's going to come hard, fast and soon. And were going to have to survive this period of unprecedented danger. And the best way to survive is to make the NRA stronger than ever. Never has membership in NRA been more important than right now.
The NRA often trades in baseless conspiracy theories to promote gun ownership and NRA membership.
In September 2011, LaPierre announced the existence of a "massive Obama conspiracy" to end private firearm ownership in the United States. The basis for LaPierre's claim that Obama would "[e]rase the Second Amendment" in his second term was that Obama did not act on guns during his first term. The NRA also claims that a United Nations treaty with the stated goal of preventing diversion of weapons to human rights abusers will be used as a pretext for gun confiscation in the United States.
Volokh Conspiracy blogger and gun activist David Kopel denied that there is a link between firearm availability and homicide, while distorting statistics to downplay the effectiveness with which other industrialized nations prevent gun violence.
Kopel made his comments on the December 3 edition of CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, during a discussion of the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher. After NBC sportscaster Bob Costas favorably quoted a FoxSports.com column that noted "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and [his victim] Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today," on Sunday Night Football, conservatives in media responded in force with false claims denying the epidemic of gun violence in America.
This pattern continued on Piers Morgan, with Kopel claiming that "there is no relation, scientifically in social science, between the number of guns and the homicide rate." To the contrary, research conducted at the Harvard Injury ControlResearch Center found that "states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide."
Ted Nugent called for the suspension of the right to vote for "any American who is on welfare" as part of his proposal to reduce federal budget deficits outlined in his latest Washington Times column.
The National Rifle Association board member also called for "slaughtering the three sacred entitlement cows" of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and called for tax increases on "the nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay zero federal income taxes." Nugent wrote that these policies should be instituted "before taxes are raised on the producers, which will further choke the economy."
From Nugent's column:
The three sacred entitlement cows in the room that no politician wants to poke are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A blinding statement of the obvious is that we are never going to get our financial house in order until these sacred entitlement cows are not only poked, but slaughtered. Until the slaughter is over, everything else is just taxation window dressing.
In addition to slaughtering the three sacred entitlement cows that consume a vast majority of the federal budget (and I use the term budget generously), let's truly spread the pain around and raise taxes on everyone, including the nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay zero federal income taxes. Those Americans need to have some skin in the game, too. I recommend at least a 5 percent federal income tax bracket for them. The insane free ride needs to end. [...]
Let's also stop the insanity by suspending the right to vote of any American who is on welfare. Once they get off welfare and are self-sustaining, they get their right to vote restored. No American on welfare should have the right to vote for tax increases on those Americans who are working and paying taxes to support them. That's insane. [...]
It shouldn't take a Motown guitar slayer to come up with these common-sense bargaining chips before taxes are raised on the producers, which will further choke the economy. How about it, GOP?
From the December 3 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the December 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News host Megyn Kelly and frequent Fox guest Lars Larson attempted to compare Bob Costas' discussion of gun control to Hank Williams Jr. associating Obama with Hitler and Don Imus calling a women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."
Fox has joined the right-wing media in criticizing NBC's Costas for questioning America's gun culture following the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher. On the December 3 edition of Fox's America's Newroom, Larson and host Megyn Kelly attempted to make a series of bizarre comparisons between Costas' comments and remarks by former MSNBC host Don Imus and former ESPN personality Hank Williams Jr. that led to their termination with their respective broadcasting outlets. Following comments by Fox News contributor Kristen Powers suggesting that Costas shouldn't be fired for expressing an opinion, as Larson urged, Larson and Kelly responded:
LARSON: When you say you shouldn't be fired for casting an opinion, ask Don Imus about that. He was fired for saying something incredibly stupid and incredibly degrading about young --
KELLY: Well, Hank Williams. Remember Hank Williams made those comments --
LARSON: Or Hank Williams.
KELLY: -- and he got fired from the NFL.
Larson was referring to Imus in 2007 calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," and Kelly's reference was to Williams comparing President Obama to Hitler just last year during an appearance on Fox & Friends.
In response to Larson and Kelly, Powers threw her hands to her head in disbelief: "I'm sorry, are we really comparing wanting gun laws to saying racist things?"
Rush Limbaugh dismissed the notion that Kasandra Perkins, who was killed in a murder-suicide this weekend by her boyfriend, NFL football player Jovan Belcher, would still be alive today if Belcher hadn't had a gun. In fact, there is a good chance Perkins would still be alive: Data show that guns greatly increase the probability that women who are victims of domestic violence will be killed by their abuser.
According to research by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, "Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 23 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force." From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which highlighted a 1992 study on domestic violence assaults:
The study found that in incidences of family and intimate assaults the use of guns was 12 times more likely to result in death than assaults that did not involve a firearm. Compared to knives or other cutting instruments, the involvement of a gun increased the risk of death by 3 times and compared to other weapons and bodily force, risk of death increased 23 times if a gun was involved.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that between 1976 and 2005, one third of female murder victims were killed by an intimate -- a spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend -- and more than two-thirds of the spouse and ex-spouse victims were killed by firearms. Girlfriend victims were killed by guns 56 percent of the time.
Similarly, a study by the Violence Policy Center, which concluded that the "most common catalytic component in murder-suicide is the use of a firearm," found that women victims in murder-suicides were killed by another type of weapon or by other means in just 9 percent of cases:
During his radio show on Monday, Limbaugh noted that there are upwards of 600 murder-suicides each year, but discounted the fact that guns play any significant role.
Discussing the Belcher case, Limbaugh criticized NBC sportscaster Bob Costas for bringing up the issue of gun violence during Sunday's night football game. Costas seemed to agree with Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock's comments that "if [Belcher] didn't possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
LIMBAUGH: No, we don't know that, sadly. I'm sure there are knives in this guy's house. And I'm sure that if he wanted to strangle her, he could have, and he clearly was irrational. The gun and even the availability of it is not why he killed her. And the gun and the availability of it is not why he killed himself. But to say that, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable.
To say what I just said is to be blind and to ignore the reality staring at us, because if there were no gun, if he couldn'ta gotten the gun then she'd be alive, and he'd be alive, and the baby wouldn't be an orphan and everything would be hunky dory and the Chiefs might have even lost. Everything would have been as it should have been.
Addressing the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, discredited gun researcher John Lott downplayed the relationship between firearm availability and the incidence of murder in a FoxNews.com column. Lott took issue with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas discussing the tragedy during halftime on Sunday Night Football. Quoting FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock, Costas said, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
Lott disputed that the presence of a firearm had anything to do with the murder-suicide, writing, "Even if no weapon existed, the strength differential is so large that Belcher could have easily killed [his girlfriend Kasandra] Perkins in any number of ways."
Lott's attempt to take guns out of the equation was the latest effort by right-wing media to silence the discussion of gun violence in the wake of Saturday's murder-suicide. It is also at odds with research about the relationship between gun availability and gun violence.
As Forbes contributor Rob Waters noted, the presence of a firearm drastically increases the lethality of domestic violence incidents. Using statistics compiled by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Waters wrote that, "If a gun is used during a domestic violence assault, there's a 23-fold increased likelihood that the victim will die. Women who are victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm."